Thread: Fatal Flaw?
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Old 03-30-2010, 08:56 AM   #53
JeffLowell
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Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 3,025
Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

I will never understand people's propensity for being offended by taking quotes out of context, but judging by the new article on Jim's site, it's widespread.

I know that by engaging at all, I'm just clinging to outdated concepts and stifling writers, but...

Shawshank? Mac H. has it completely right that the protagonist and main character are Andy, but I disagree and think it's pretty clear that the warden is the antagonist. (reddery, are you talking about the short story maybe? I haven't read it, but the movie doesn't end with Andy disappearing and not knowing where he's gone.) And on Star Wars, I disagree with Jim (heresy, I know) and think that the antagonist is Darth Vader.

In most movies, the antagonist isn't a group or a concept. It's a person. It makes it easier to cast someone in the role, and sell action figures.

For the whole main character/narrator kerfluffle... In a good movie, lots of characters besides the protagonist can have big stories, changes, themes, whatever. And if a piece of story software (Dramatica) wants to change the terminology up... okay. No one on earth is going to know what you're talking about when you go into a meeting and have to talk about your story, but feel free to call your narrator the main character, even though they're not. Call the antagonist the waffle iron. Go nuts!

And Steven, this is just one person's advice, but this theory has you twisted in knots. I've been working as a writer for fifteen years, I've spent literally tens of thousands of hours talking to hundreds of professionals about story and characters, and I honestly have no idea what you're talking about.

That is gobbledegook, and by trying to fit your story into Dramatic role function characters and pure traits and Guardians and Dramatica function traits, you have no idea what actual story you're telling or what your characters are. You need to able to simplify your story so it's comprehensible. A movie is about a protagonist who is trying to accomplish a goal, even though the antagonist is trying to stop him. Once you have that, you can build it up with theme and secondary characters and plot twists and reversals and whatever, but you need to start there.

Again, one person's opinion, but your story right now has a flawed core, and no amount of Dramatica terms will make it interesting. Your story, as I understand it, is "a man has to carry a flash drive across the country while other people try to stop him." Does that sound like a movie you'd see? Is there anything about that concept that seems like a hook that would draw people in?

I don't think any one book has the answer, but I would buy Save The Cat if I were you. And absorb it. It's a really good basic guide, and avoids confusing people with neo-Jungian mumbo jumbo.
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